Have any of the medical living historians/reenactors giving much thought to the collecting of specimens (predominantly, but not entirely, from CS soldiers) for the Army Medical Museum (now the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology)? The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion details numerous pathological specimens and later medical texts drew from the collection.
I have a 3-fold question:
a. What was the process whereby a surgeon determined that a particular patients wound was interesting or unique enough to qualify for addition to the Medical Museum?
b. One Union general used to visit his leg at the Army Medical Museum for some years after the War. Did other surviving contributors (if any) ever get a look at their old parts?
c.Does anyone else find it disturbing that a poor wounded soldier, with a nasty though not necessarily fatal wound, could be brought into hospital for treatment, a complete social and medical history be obtained, and the specimen collected and preserved, and sent off to Washington after the patient died? In most cases the soldiers name, place of birth, age, regiment, length of service, in short, as I said, a complete history was obtained, which then was sent with the speciman after the fellow died. Were the patients families notified during or after the War that Johnny or Billy who was listed as "missing, presumed killed" at whatever battle, lived long enough to give his information to a surgeon, then after he died that bits of his remains were in a museum?
At one time, the AMM/AFIP had not only identified body parts (bone and wet specimens), but whole skeletons of soldiers in storage. Identified remains! Men whose families might never have know what happened to them.
I assume these are still part of the collection. I'm not advocating "repatriation" in the way the American Indians have gained possession of their ancestors, as the AMM/AFIP collection should remain intact.
I would like to know if any of you have more insight into this than I, or if anyone has considered making a "specimen collection" part of a living history demonstation/discussion. It's certainly as aspect that a non-medical reenactor might not be aware of.
Do I have a completely wrong interpretation of the process? Or would some surgeons consider having a specimen on display a feather in their caps (like some love to see their names in medical journals today)?